I had a moment in thinking about boundaries because I felt lonely. It feels uncomfortable to set boundaries because we are afraid that they won’t be received or that we will end up alone. We are afraid that boundaries mean we are cutting ourselves off. The truth is boundaries are simply the limits within which we operate. They are ever changing but they help clear up that definition of who we are as well as the alignment of what we will and will not tolerate on our paths.
This past week I’ve had to set boundaries both at home and at work—and I had an intense moment of guilt with each of them. But part of setting boundaries is learning to let go of that guilt. There are moments in our lives that we need to be ours and ours alone and there is no reason to feel guilty about that. There are moments when we can no longer support the behavior of others in our lives and we set the boundary. Either they will respect and accept that or they will fall away. Anyone who was comfortable crossing your boundaries doesn’t have respect for you and they were more concerned with getting what they needed or wanted from you than building a relationship with you.
So when it came to setting boundaries at home, I never really considered how much guilt I carried. I mentioned in my gratitude post that I was upset the family wasn’t helping me clean this past weekend. I had a learning opportunity that I had to attend and I also had some writing to work on and the house was a mess. I had things I wanted to get done prior to starting my work. I made my husband and son get off their butts to help me and then I had to yell at my son to get out of my office. I normally let him play but I couldn’t afford any more distractions so I told him to get out. He was upset and bored and even asked what he was supposed to go do because he didn’t know how to entertain himself. I told him to go use his toys and his imagination because I couldn’t help him in that moment. It hurt because I’m used to giving him what he needs, but I know that in order to get where I need to be, I need to focus on my work.
The other boundaries were at work. Our boss was out of the office this week and I am onboarding two new team members while monitoring an action plan for one of my other teams as well as their new module and work queues. Two of my coworkers have been primarily involved with another project regarding some state legislation and there were tweaks made to their queue that caused it to populate erroneously. Instead of calmly looking at it and realizing the settings were off and making IT fix it, they demanded everyone jump in and help them. I’m already divided thinly and working on limited time. I did what I could for them and then I had to hop out. For these two, that wasn’t enough. I told them that I had done what I can and it escalated into an argument about what my team does.
I simply informed them that it’s very clear they don’t know what work I do and they actually agreed. When my boss returned, I told her what happened and I asked for some time in our group management meeting to further discuss this. I let her know that I’m tired of having to defend myself and my operation to my team and that perception isn’t always reality. She also agreed. So while the conversation started off with some challenges, I think this is a time for us to clear the air and make sure that they aren’t making judgements on what they think they see.
This is something I’m proud of because none of this was in an effort to prove I’m right or anything like that. This was about not letting people dictate my day. My coworkers came in with the expectation that I would drop the work I was doing and jump into their role. They weren’t happy when I did what I could do but I didn’t jump. I kept the course for what I needed to do. The universe jumps to support us, sometimes when we least expect it and in ways we may not expect. For boundaries to matter, we have to up hold them even when it feels uncomfortable. From this last week, it felt amazing. It is something I will continue to do.